Apple wins appeal in Time Machine tech patent infringement suit

Posted:
in Mac Software
Apple has emerged victorious in a court struggle that targeted Time Machine for Mac, successfully arguing to the court that its technology did not infringe on the work of longstanding PC backup service provider Farstone.




The appeals court ruling, doled out on Tuesday, confirms that Apple was not in violation of of patent No. 7,120,835 from 2006, covering graphic user interfaces used to backup and restore data stored on a computer.

Farstone contacted Apple in April of 2013 claiming the company was in violation of patent No. 7,120,835, and received two responses from Apple in April and May 2013, one denying interest in acquiring the patent. A lawsuit alleging Apple was willingly infringing Farstone's patent was filed in September of 2013.

The lawsuit sought an injunction against Time Machine, triple damages suffered by Farstone as a result of willful patent violation, and an ongoing royalty agreement.

A series of "face-to-face" meetings between Apple and Farstone were held, with no success and "too many disputed issues" according to the court. Judge Otis Wright ultimately declared that the patent didn't adequately describe the invention in conjunction with prior art covering Apple's implementation, and the suit was dismissed on November 10, 2015.

An appeal was filed, citing that patent law from the beginning of the 21st century did not require the specificity that Judge Wright demanded in his ruling. The US Court of Appeals ruled on Tuesday, without issuing an opinion, that the ruling dismissing the case was affirmed.

Apple has claimed nearly $41,000 in expenses as a result of the trial.

Unlike many other companies involved in intellectual property disputes, Farstone is not a so-called "patent troll." The company was formed in 1993, and has been continuously developing backup and drive cloning products, primarily for Windows and the enterprise market.

Apple has fought off suits about Time Machine in the past. The suit with Farstone is the third time Apple has been sued for Time Machine's Cover Flow implementation. In 2008, Mirror Worlds started its battle with Apple.

Mirror Worlds won an initial $625.5 million ruling in 2010, but the verdict was appealed, with Apple ultimately winning the dispute.

The core of Apple's battles over Time Machine is Cover Flow. Apple purchased the technology from developer Steel Skies in 2006. The feature was originally used in iOS to allow users to browse through iTunes music. Apple later added CoverFlow technology to Safari, but discontinued the rarely used viewing option in Safari 7.0.

Apple was awarded a patent for basic Time Machine functionality in November 2012.

Farstone Technology, Inc. v. Apple



Farstone vs Apple appeal ruling

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 6
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,452member
    As long as we keep in mind that Apple is not the only company that gets sued for stuff like this. Every tech company on the planet gets sued over patents all the time. That's why they have huge legal departments. We always hear about it when Apple gets sued but almost never hear about Google, Samsung, Microsoft, and others who have giant legal departments to deal with lawsuits.
    potatoleeksoupRayz2016MacPro
  • Reply 2 of 6
    nolamacguynolamacguy Posts: 4,758member
    without having reviewed any of the evidence or arguments, this sounds like the sort of problems on can expect when software patents are granted on *ideas* (GUI slides that rotate) rather than *implementations* (the code you wrote to achieve that). in the real world, there are many ways to build a car but the idea of a car can not be patented. your unique parts can be protected, and in the software world parts are your code. code theft is protected via copyright, and thus we likely dont need software patents. ideas are free and ideas are not implementations. 
    edited August 2016 mwhitepotatoleeksoupgatorguy2old4funbaconstangRayz2016jony0anton zuykov
  • Reply 3 of 6
    I don't recall Safari ever having Cover Flow.  Nor did Time Machine ever have Cover Flow, unless you had that view selected in the Finder.  I would not consider the multiple windows coming towards you to find the file you were searching for as Cover Flow.  It only made sense in iTunes, so you could browse through album covers, and view a nice large image of the album while you were listening to music.  Now that vinyl is making a big comeback, the young kids might actually be able to appreciate the artwork of an album.  Since Apple ditched Cover Flow in both iTunes and iOS, it makes no sense to keep it in the Finder.  I have no idea why Cover Flow has lasted this long in the Finder when it was removed years ago from iTunes and iOS.  The patent lawsuits are crazy.
  • Reply 4 of 6
    lkrupp said:
    We always hear about it when Apple gets sued but almost never hear about Google, Samsung, Microsoft, and others who have giant legal departments to deal with lawsuits.
    Many of the patent lawsuits mention other tech companies being sued.  Many of them choose to settle out of court, which is why you mostly hear about Apple going to trial.  Sometimes they win, sometimes they don't...but it is all crazy because they are filed in patent and plaintiff-friendly East Texas court.
  • Reply 5 of 6
    About Apple, Coverflow and licensing: When Apple bought CoverFlow it was seen as a good faith purchase. They could have just copied it without significant consequence: there is ample prior art for this kind of display (i.e juke boxes, card catalogues, even some of Apple's own software such as Hypercard etc.) and technically it's not novel to implement; I doubt Apple even used any code from that acquisition. However Apple still rewarded this developer for adapting the idea into something that worked well.

    The  point of this example is a that it demonstrates a long running trend I have seen with Apple: Apple respects intellectual property, and if they are notified about a misuse then they will meet with the relevant parties to find a compromise or discuss the merits. This is rare however as Apple's goal is to license IP before implementing it.

    This is why time and time again we see frivolous lawsuits against Apple: because those with a legitimate claims are met with a licensing agreement and a handshake. This is an approach which I feel more companies should embrace instead of producing carbon-copies or letting their egos drive them to court.

  • Reply 6 of 6

    I don't recall Safari ever having Cover Flow.  Nor did Time Machine ever have Cover Flow, unless you had that view selected in the Finder.  I would not consider the multiple windows coming towards you to find the file you were searching for as Cover Flow.  It only made sense in iTunes, so you could browse through album covers, and view a nice large image of the album while you were listening to music.  Now that vinyl is making a big comeback, the young kids might actually be able to appreciate the artwork of an album.  Since Apple ditched Cover Flow in both iTunes and iOS, it makes no sense to keep it in the Finder.  I have no idea why Cover Flow has lasted this long in the Finder when it was removed years ago from iTunes and iOS.  The patent lawsuits are crazy.
    Finder, Time Machine, Safari and so on all had implementations of Cover Flow. Finder and Expose still have a form of this. There are loads of screen shots for each, e.g. search "Safari Coverflow"
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